Monday, August 16, 2010

Get creeped out. Learn some history. Support small publishers.

So last week I read this book DRAW THE DARK by Ilsa J. Bick. My mind was blown.

Like, BOOM, there goes my mind. Blown.

Christian Cage lives with his uncle, the town sheriff, since his parents disappeared when he was young. He's an outsider, picked on at school for being the weird kid. He's socially awkward and his only release is his art. He's an amazing artist, but he has a secret -- he believes his art is responsible for some of the bad things that have happened to him and his family.

Lately Christian has been having vivid dreams, so vivid that they almost seem like visions. When he sleepwalks himself out to the town jillionaire's barn and vandalizes it with swastikas, he has an inkling that his dreams are trying to tell him something. His town, Winter, Wisconsin, seems to have swept a lot of its history under the rug. And when Christian dreams, he becomes a boy, David, who is witness to some of Winter's long-forgotten secrets. Secrets that may be surfacing when a mummified baby turns up in the wall of a recently-purchased house.

As Christian finds himself deeper and deeper into this mystery, he finds himself both fascinated and terrified by the prospect that his ethnically German neighbors may be descended from Nazi prisoners. He struggles to control his ability to slip back in time, while maintaining some semblance of sanity and maybe even getting closer to his only friend -- and, yeah, cute girl -- Sarah. He feels a responsibility to David, to tell his story, discover the origin of the baby in the wall, and find out why there are no longer any Jews in Winter. And he wonders if his new-found ability can help him find his parents in "the sideways place" where he believes they might be trapped.

With so many threads of story, DRAW THE DARK is an absolutely ambitious novel. But it is artfully woven together, piece by piece, and I'd love to see it mentioned for the 2011 Edgar Award in the Young Adult category.

DRAW THE DARK is with a smaller press, Carolrhoda Books, and for that reason, if you're not paying attention, you could miss it. Some of the big chain book stores in your area might not have DRAW THE DARK and this makes me crazy because, whoa, mind-blowing books belong on the shelves of all the stores. ALL THE STORES!

So I hereby challenge you to go into your local bookstore -- be it an indie or a Barnes or a Borders -- and ask for DRAW THE DARK. Be all like, "Sup, do you have that new book by Ilsa J. Bick?" And if they say "no" you can be all like "THIS IS A TRAVESTY! Please order me a copy. I will come pick it up when it comes in. And, btw, you must read it if you like creepy awesome smart YA books." And then when it comes in, you pick it up, and you read it, and you get your mind blown. Whoa.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Go you, for plugging a small press book. And I'm totes putting that on my TBR, even though creepy isnt' my thing, but cool YA artist boy MC's is. :)

Dawn Embers said...

That does sound like an interesting book. I'll have to add it to my list of books to find.

Cholisose said...

There are definitely some good small press books out there, though they're not too easy to find. Nice to have blogs that share what they've found!

kellybarnhill said...

Carolrhoda books has put out some stunners in recent years. In fact, most of my favorite books lately have come from the small press world - McSweeney's, Coffee House Press, Soft Skull, Small Beer Press and Nightshade.

Melissa said...

Brilliant review! Posted my review of it today, and I rather liked it! :)

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